The Best Places To Buy A Vacation Home in California

Vacation home sales have been surging during the pandemic, according to NAR's recently released 2021 Vacation Home Counties Report

Here we rank our favorite vacation home markets in California (aside from Lake Tahoe which we all know and love).

These areas were selected based on popularity of attractions and affordability of listings. Although there are certainly extravagant homes available in all of these locations, you can also find solid investment properties at close to the California median home sale price of $818,260 for May 2021.  

Our main takeaway is to thinks lakes and mountains rather than beaches; the non-beach vacation areas have outperformed given their relative affordability, and they have higher rental yields. Only one of our favorite waterfront cities, San Diego, can come close to competing with our non-waterfront picks, like St Helena and Big Bear.  

These are the best places to buy a vacation home in California and some homes for sale to choose from...

San Diego

Check out this five-bed with swimming pool, fire pit, boat parking, and outdoor kitchen gazebo in San Diego here.

Redondo Beach

Check out this vacant lot in Redondo Beach here for a great possible development opportunity.


Check out this Wine Country home with swimming pool and wonderful amenities here.

Palm Springs

Check out this incredible contemporary home with pool and spa in the Palm Spring desert here.


Last but not least on our list of the best places to buy a vacation home in California, we have Ojai.

Check out this lovely three-bedroom home in Downtown Ojai with lovely mountain views, a vegetable garden, and a guest cottage here.

Bungalow style house surrounded by greenery and mountains

California vacation home picks:

Note: Returns with leverage assume an 80% LTV mortgage at a 3% interest rate, and a 5% annual growth in net rental income.

READ NEXT: 7 Investment Properties for Sale With Huge Airbnb Potential

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